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Atsuko lay atop the roof of the Shogun's castle watching as the sun began to flirt with the western horizon. Already, warm pastel colors began to flow across the sky. Soon, the time would be that the people the Shogun was so interested in would show, and indeed, the Lady Hanabi was awaiting them at the gate. Perhaps Atsuko's presence would not be needed as an escort, but she was to ensure that nothing went wrong at the very least, whether the people on the ground below knew of her presence or not.

Her partner, a Sneasel whom she had named Koritsume, stood atop the crest of the roof, still as a statue as it watched below. "What do you suppose the Shogun wants with all these people, Kori-chan?" Atsuko asked, propping herself up on her elbow.

The Sharp Claw Pokémon turned its head only enough to see her and hissed, "Snea," in response. It had never been fond of the use of "chan" in association with its name. In fact, it seemed to take its and Atsuko's service to the Shogun much more seriously than its partner. The two weren't exactly a very compatible duo.

In the end, Atsuko ignored the cold response and hopped to her feet. "Looks like company is starting to show. Maybe we should go greet our guests, Kori-chan," she chimed as the Sneasel shot her another agitated look. She then nimbly jumped and flipped her way down to ground level, using various parts of the castle as footholds on the way. Koritsume followed close behind, and together they landed only feet from Lady Hanabi. "Hanabi-dono," Atsuko greeted, bowing deeply in unison with the Sneasel beside her, "My name is Higashi Atsuko. My partner and I are here on orders to serve you in any way you require."

Interacting With: @Fading Memory
"I won't take long, Milady," the captain said with a momentary bow of his head. "I'd hate for Ajairu to be deprived of necessary care. I am aware that Lord Fuji is looking for a team of exceptionally gifted individuals to complete specific tasks for the purposes of quelling this civil war, and, having been here when the beast attacked, I can say that this group--yourself included--handled the situation with an effectiveness I only know to be rivaled by the Shogun's elite, even if the results were not as some would have hoped. And for now, many of these do not seem to have previous association with one another. With time, they might even learn to work even better as a team. Mayhaps we can request that these people have an audience with the Lord Fuji? If Milady finds this agreeable, of course.

"Now, as to the detection of this Alpha," he continued, "I will accept full responsibility for failing to do so sooner. Kanegi detected something retreating into the brush to the east earlier today, but I didn't realize at the time what it was, nor how dangerous it would prove to be. I had hoped it might not return, even if it were some threat--least of all within only a few minutes of its first departure. Such a behavior was highly irregular of Alphas we have seen near the city prior, and I did not prepare myself, nor others, for it. If someone has failed you, Milady, it is I." He knelt on the ground, his head bowed. "My sincerest apologies, and I will subject myself to whatever punishment is deemed appropriate."

And thus he awaited her response. He wanted not for the wrath of the Lady Hanabi, but he would not conceal his own faults in the matter. Lives that might have been spared were lost due to his miscalculations. Blood was on his hands for not preparing the guards sooner. But, he mused, the situation, grim as it was, may not have been without a silver lining. They may now have the tools to end this conflict, provided they didn't kill each other first.

Interacting With: @Fading Memory
The great cat would have howled, if not for its vocal cords being severed in that same moment. Shortly after, it collapsed in a lifeless heap. The crisis, it would seem, was at an end. The archers atop their posts laxed their bowstrings, and one by one, disappeared from view while the hailstorm that had been summoned not but a minute prior broke apart, giving way to the gleam of the sun.

Captain Mizuno straightened, wiping clean his blade on the Persian carcass' fur before sheathing it. Aside from a small spatter of blood on his armor, you would never guess that he had just been in a battle. He took in his surroundings, and impressively, the damage had been contained to a small area. The majority of harm had befallen the prisoners' convoy, of which some prisoners had escaped into the woods, others lay unconscious, and two seemed to have perished. One such prisoner had aided in the fight, whose quick thinking and Murkrow companion were owed thanks for the beast not reaching beyond the gates and causing many more casualties. He bowed his head in gratitude to the fellow before continuing to survey the battlefield.

His eyes passed over the front end of the creature, and there, beside its head along with a hulk of a woman was Lady Hanabi, painted with blood from the lethal strike she had delivered to the Persian. "Milady Hanabi!" Mizuno greeted. "I am humbled by the noble presence of one such as yourself. If I may bother you for just a moment of your time, I believe you will find it worth the delay."


Jiro stirred amongst a pile of splintered wood. His armor had saved him from any serious injuries, though Hitomi lay face-down beside him with a gash along his back. "Hitomi?" Jiro asked, and the small Sentret gave a weak groan of acknowledgement with a slight swish of its tail. "Hang in there, I've got some medicine for you," he said, fishing in his pouch for the standard-grade concoction that all village guards were required to carry. It wouldn't cure the entire wound immediately, but it could stabilize all but the most grievous of injuries.

Hitomi cried briefly at the added sting when Kimura dripped some of the potion onto the cut, but then the blood coagulated quickly after, and scar tissue reduced the size of the Sentret's energy. Soon after, Hitomi was able to push himself up and realize, along with Kimura, exactly what was going on around them.

A group of fearless travelers and the like had taken to combatting a massive 10-foot-tall Persian (roughly double that in length) that flailed* and lashed out*, clearly confused as it damaged itself nearly as much as the people and Pokémon around it. Hail was spreading from the gate as a blur of white--Kimura thought he recognized it as the Vulpix from earlier, but it was too obscured in the frosty deluge to be sure--unleashed a cone of snow and ice toward the monster, combined with a flurry of attacks from many others. Archers had mounted the towers along the perimeter and awaited a silent signal to fire from their commanding officer, but they would not fire while they risked harming civilians.

Closer to the gate Kimura recognized Captain Mizuno and Kanegi, gathering their wits from an attack they had suffered. Kimura scooped Hitomi in his arms and sprinted to the captain, trying to ignore the fear piercing his gut. He raised one arm in a feeble attempt to ward off hail that musically--but not painlessly--pelted off his armor. "Captain, are you okay?" Kimura shouted over the cacophony as Hitomi climbed to his shoulder.

Captain Mizuno looked over after a shake of his head. "Kimura? You've been trying to prove yourself, now's the time."

"Yes, sir! Just give the order, sir!" Kimura barked in response, steadying his hand as he grasped and drew his blade.

"Aim for its sides, stay away from its claws and tail, and especially," the captain ordered, "stay away from its mouth! It won't hesitate to eat you if you give it the chance. Kanegi and I will go left, you and Hitomi go right. It's confused and can't keep pace with all the attacks. If we do this right it'll drop sooner than later. Now, go!"

Captain Mizuno and Kanegi sprinted off at the last command, and Kimura followed suit only a moment after. The two charged toward the Persian's farther flank as Kimura raised his sword to strike. In the same moment, Hitomi leaped into the air and its tail glowed white before becoming the texture of polished steel. Kimura focused as he charged ensuring he wouldn't miss as he lunged toward the Persian's belly.

In the moment before his attack met its mark, the Persian had noticed the small flying Hitomi and opened its maw in its direction, the tiny creature perfectly bite-sized for such a large beast, but Hitomi cleverly changed the angle of its attack, and the iron tail struck the Persian upon the nose at the same time Kimura sliced its underside. The creature howled, knowing it was too weak to continue fighting for long, but unable to clearly tell its up from its down, accompanied by a perpetual urge to hold its ground despite its instincts to flee when so thoroughly overwhelmed.

Interacting With: @Silverstein
It wasn't long after the man with the Vulpix had passed through the gates that the Tauros-led convoy arrived in his place. Captain Mizuno set Kimura about inspecting the cart. The chief of the group hastily mislabeled the trainee Kimura as a captain, and requested direct audience with the Shogun as one of the prisoners boldly asserted that he was no bandit.

"As I'm sure you understand," Mizuno explained, "the Shogun is a very busy man. Even one such as myself would have difficulty with appointing a direct audience, especially for a case of common banditry when we have a civil war on our hands. We shall see if we can't get them appropriately imprisoned for now at the very least." He tapped his foot in impatience. There didn't seem to be that much that should require inspection, yet Kimura still hadn't finished yet.

"Kimura! Hitomi!" Mizuno barked. "You finished with that inspection?!"

"Just wrapping up, sir!" Kimura replied.

Hitomi responded with a, "Seeen-tret!" of its own.

"Let's get the chief moving then. He's got places to be-"

"FAAAAARRRR!" Kanegi squawked, and it didn't take long for Mizuno to realize why.

With impossible speed, a lithe, feline creature pounced from the woods and struck the Tauros and cart in one strike, launching the beast of burden, splintering wood, and demolishing cages. Kimura and Hitomi were among the victims thrown by the impact, Kimura saved from a potentially lethal claw by his armor, though at least one of the convoy's guards wasn't quite so lucky, and lay face-down in his own fluids. Standing ferally over the banquet before it was a Persian at least three times average size, its eyes seeming to glow with a vivid red as bright as the gemstone atop its forehead.

Mizuno and Kanegi wasted no time in readying their weapons and lunging at the great cat, but were batted away like playthings. It was going to take a coordinated effort by more than just two to fell such a beast.

Interacting with @Hero @KenjuGuy


The suggested nudity of his fellow mercs barely fazed Sanji anymore; he had seen many of them in the buff (or fairly close to it; such depended on whether the person in question was wearing smallclothes beneath their outerwear when they needed treatment and the exact location of their injuries) when treating them for this or that. One of the side-effects of effectively being the company physician, he supposed. Though he caught a glimpse of Celeste's attempt to hide a startled expression at Kallun's implication. Come to think of it, Celeste didn't tend to ever end up with more than a small scrape, and Sanji couldn't think of a time that even he had seen her disrobed. Of course, she wasn't one for combat, so for her to end up needing treatment would be a rare occurence.

Next Kallun rambled about a race and slothfulness, and Sanji momentarily thought the swordsman had lost his mind. Though he definitely found Celeste's response amusing, especially when concerning the value in her shoes. He wished he could have that amount of gold lining his trousers. At last he chimed in, albeit a bit tersely, "I have to agree with Celeste. If I were to run with this bag in the state it's in, I'd lose its contents in moments. And if I were to leave it to sit somewhere, the people around here would be jumping at the opportunity to snag the medicines for their own. I'll pass."

Not to mention, he thought, he had already been up and at work well before the sun had decided to share any of its light with Drakesfoot. He wasn't about to die of lethargy, though he couldn't expect Kallun to know all about his morning activities. Thus, he continued warming his hands. After a moment, he dug some coin out of his pocket and counted the few marks he had. Maybe, if he was lucky, he could talk some local merchant into selling him a replacement satchel, even if it was something of less-than-desirable quality. He repocketed the bit of gold and decided he'd continue warming himself a while longer, then set out for the marketplace and see if he could find something that might work better than his current kit.
@LostDestiny
What Legendary/Mythical is she connected with? Doesn't necessarily have to be one from the list, per se, just something to send her into the occasional random "avatar state".

Also do feel free to join the discord for quicker communication lol
@LostDestiny I think we can handle another. I think I'm going to cut it off at 10 characters.

Interacting With: @Double
At the southern gate, the less experienced of two guards jumped back and let a small yelp at the sight of a snow-white Vulpix popping its head out and then back inside of the traveler's cloak. His outburst was met with his superior's swift elbow jabbing at his ribs, giving him another reason to yelp, though he thankfully understood the reason and kept his response to a grunt.

The senior officer observed the place the blue-eyed face had been only a moment ago. "If I'm not mistaken, that was a Vulpix, but not like one I can recall having seen. Where did you--? You know, it's none of my business. We get a lot of folks from all over who show up here in town to do business. We just need to inspect your wares, make sure there's no contraband. You know, poisons, easily concealed kunai, the like. Unfortunately with this war waging all around us, one can never be too careful."

The officer's Farfetch'd nodded and gave a, "Far," as if affirming his partner's statement. It was quite prideful and poised for a Farfetch'd, its leek propped against its shoulder like a spear.

"Kimura!" the supervisor barked. Immediately, his subordinate stood at attention and quit massaging his ribs.

"Ye-yes, sir!" the lesser guard responded with a wince.

"Inspect this good man's wares, if you've finished playing the fool. I'm sure he's ready to find lodging."

"Yes, sir!" Kimura repeated, and he went about his duties, his Sentret companion following at his heels.

As the superior returned to his post, he heard his Farfetch'd growl a drawn out "Faarrr." He followed his partner's gaze to the treeline only just in time to notice the rustling of foliage and a patch of light fur disappearing within.

"Keep an eye on that, if you please, Kanegi," he said, and the leek-bearing duck gave a so-serious-it's-comical salute and fixed its stare on the treeline. While he waited on Kimura to finish up, he watched the barely-there dirt road with one eye shut, and as he felt the sun slowly rising into the sky, a Tauros-drawn convoy came into view on the horizon. "Look sharp, Kimura! We'll have more company soon. Hurry with this fellow so we can take care of the next."

"Yes, sir! Mizuno, sir!"

Mizuno sighed as he massaged his temples. This new recruit was enthusiastic about his post, sure, but Mizuno was unsure of whether Kimura would make it.


The morning sun ascended over Saffron as the commonfolk stirred and wandered into the streets. Rice farmers tended their crop, traders set up kiosks, and people roamed aimlessly, ignoring the dangers of the world beyond. Just beyond the log barricades, wild Pokémon assaulted the weak, bandits pillaged the traveler, and wars waged, but the citizens of Saffron seemed to care not. For now, at least, the great Shogun's castle that towered at the center of Saffron cast an umbrella of protection over its people; they had naught to worry for, they thought, so long as that castle stood strong.

Guardsmen at the gates changed posts, those having taken the night watch now off to rest before performing their duties once again the following night. Patrols kept a close eye on those of the different Clans who entered, their goal to prevent the war from entering Saffron. Yet there were things that evaded even them. Small Pokémon would occasionally sneak over the walls or through the gates for a bite of food when such was difficult to find in the outside world. Produce merchants would find their inventory slightly less than their last count, or an oran may have a chunk missing from it.

In the alleys, children who idolized the Shogun's samurai played war. Others played alongside Pokémon or helped their parents in the rice fields. At the training grounds, the Shogun's personal warriors repeated rigorous routines to keep themselves ready for battle should the need arise. Alongside these warriors were powerful Pokémon, performing similar exercises to train for war. Some sparred, others tackled exhausting obstacles. For those few who took note of these goings on, it was a grim omen of things yet to come.

But such was easily overlooked when the crisp morning breeze carried sakura petals so gently across the scene. The early sun's orange glow accented the painted-over glaze that encompassed the world that morning. Saffron looked as though something out of a dream on such a day that seemed ripe for adventure... or maybe just relaxation. Or perhaps...
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